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Higher education agency announces 2005-06 scholarships

 


Higher education agency announces 2005-06 scholarships 

May 16, 2005       

By Marta Aldrich*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)—University of Kansas junior Blair Thompson plans to become an ordained United Methodist minister and is getting some tangible encouragement from her denomination through the Allan Jerome Burry Scholarship.

She is one of 17 United Methodists receiving scholarships in the first round of 2005-06 awards announced by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry on April 21. Other awards will be announced during the next few months.

The board administers 60 scholarship programs that provided nearly $4.8 million in awards to 3,540 students last year. The agency also provided $1.2 million in loans to another 500 students.

“Since its inception, our denomination has believed in an educated laity and clergy,” says Angella Current-Felder, executive director of the board’s Office of Loans and Scholarships. “Education has been one of our major values.”

In fact, the United Methodist Student Loan Program, established in 1867, is the oldest student loan program in the country, according to the board. The scholarship program was launched in the mid-1940s. Funding for both programs comes from invested earnings through endowments established through wills, annuities, offerings and other designated gifts.

“This money isn’t going to pay for a student’s full tuition, but it’s a significant supplement and a way for the church to invest in a United Methodist student’s academic career and vocational goals,” Current-Felder said.

Thompson is a member of First United Methodist Church of Baldwin City, Kan., and served as community life director of the United Methodist Campus Ministry during her junior year at the University of Kansas. She has applied to work this summer in a United Methodist urban ministry program in Oklahoma.

Her scholarship is designed to recognize a United Methodist student’s outstanding academic performance, leadership skills and participation in activities of a United Methodist-related campus ministry or chaplaincy program.

“Christ has led me to work with children, youth and college students over the course of the past two years, and Christ is leading me to seminary,” Thompson wrote in her application. “As I continue my education, I will support and reinforce the foundations of individuals old and young.”

In other scholarships announced April 21, four campus ministers will receive $5,000 each for the Bishop James C. Baker Graduate Awards, supporting advanced studies in campus ministry: Creighton Alexander, Southern Methodist University, Dallas; Jennifer Copeland, Duke University, Durham, N.C.; Jeanne Koughn, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Mich.; and Gregory Moore, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Dawn Jeffers Ramstad, a part-time employee in rural ministry in Wisconsin, has received  the Rosalie Bentzinger Graduate Scholarship, which recognizes a United Methodist pursuing a doctorate degree in Christian education in seminary. Ramstad is enrolled at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Ill. A deacon in full connection in the Wisconsin Annual (regional) Conference, she plans to complete her doctoral studies in 2008 and teach in Christian education in one of the 13 United Methodist seminaries.

The board announced 11 United Methodists receiving a total of $21,000 through the Schisler Graduate Awards, given to assist outstanding graduate students who have chosen a career as a professional Christian educator in a local church. They are Jessica Avery, Asbury Theological Seminary; Wilmore, Ky.; Diane Braman, Memphis (Tenn.) Theological Seminary; Mary Elders, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary; Michelle Hindman, Memphis (Tenn.) Theological Seminary; Shirley Joiner, Gammon Theological Seminary, Atlanta; Hope Oliphant, Pfeiffer University, Misenheimer, N.C.; Katherine Pestel, Asbury Theological Seminary; Valerie Robideaux, Duke University Divinity School; Allyson Talbert, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary; Danyelle Trexler, Duke University Divinity School; and Diane Wooden, Gammon Theological Seminary.

Applicants for United Methodist scholarships and loans must be active, full members of a United Methodist church for at least a year before applying. They must be admitted to a full-time degree program in an accredited college or university and maintain a grade point average of 2.5 or above. Certain scholarships have other restrictions, such as career path and racial or ethnic background.

“We continually have more eligible applicants than we have dollars available,” said Current-Felder, noting her office had to turn away 300 eligible applicants last year.

“All the students have wonderful stories,” she said. “There are a large number coming from single-parent families and who are struggling to go to school and working while in school. They are involved in their local church and making a contribution in their community. … It’s painful when the church cannot always respond to their need.”

*Aldrich is a freelance writer in Franklin, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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